If you are a sailor or other maritime worker who has been hurt on the job, you may be entitled to seek compensation for your damages under the Jones Act, including maintenance and cure benefits.
In addition to regulating maritime commerce in U.S. waters, the Jones Act protects workers on cargo ships, oil rigs, fishing boats, crew boats, tugboats, barges, supply boats and dredges who have sustained on the job injuries. Under the Jones Act, any sailor who suffers injury in the course of their employment has the right to seek compensation for any injuries caused by the negligence of a ship’s owner, captain or other members of the crew.
The Jones Act covers injuries that occur at sea as well as injuries which occur while in transport to a vessel or while working on a vessel that is docked.
Maintenance and Cure under the Jones Act
The Jones Act specifies that an injured seaman is eligible to seek financial compensation for a variety of damages, including “maintenance” and “cure.” “Maintenance” provides for the injured seaman’s day-to-day living expenses while being off work due to an injury. “Cure” covers the costs of medical treatment, medications, and rehabilitation. In addition, the injured seaman may also seek to recover attorneys’ fees.
You are not allowed to collect maintenance benefits while hospitalized since food and lodging are provided during your hospital stay. Maritime workers are also not allowed to collect maintenance payments if they are jailed.
Qualifying for Maintenance Payments
In order to collect compensation for a maintenance and cure claim, you must provide proof that:
- You qualify as a seaman.
- You were injured or became ill while in the service of the vessel.
- The amount of maintenance and cure to which you are entitled.
How Much Can I Collect for Maintenance?
Maintenance is designed to cover the period of recuperation after an injured seaman is released from the hospital and the time they are able to return to work. It includes the costs of food as well as room and board while staying on land. The threshold to establish the value of maintenance isn’t very difficult; your testimony regarding the reasonable costs of room and board in the community in which you live is sufficient to receive an award.
The typical amount of maintenance and cure you can expect to collect will usually come out to about $30 – 40 per day. The court considers both the reasonable costs for living expenses as well as the actual living expenses in a community when making their decision.
Collecting Maintenance Benefits
Maintenance benefits, as well as cure payments, are sometimes not awarded until after a lawsuit is won or settled. However, in emergency situations it is sometimes possible to seek a pre-trial determination from the court that you are entitled to immediate maintenance and cure payments.
Maintenance costs are covered until a seaman is deemed healthy enough to return to work by a doctor.
Occasionally, vessel owners try to get out of their obligations to provide maintenance and cure to injured workers. If it is determined that a ship owner’s failure to provide maintenance and cure benefits is “willful and wanton” the ship owner may find themselves subject to punitive damages.
Speak with an Experienced Maritime Lawyer
The New Orleans maritime lawyers at The Lambert Firm have been successfully representing injured seamen throughout the United States for more than 40 years. If you are a maritime worker who has been injured on the job, our advice to to not put off seeking compensation. You only have 3 years after the date of your injury to seek maintenance and cure benefits.
Call The Lambert Firm at (504) 581-1750 to schedule a free, confidential meeting with one of our Jones Act attorneys. We serve clients all along the Gulf Coast as well as maritime workers injured while working on the Mississippi River and America’s other inland water-ways and ports.